APO®

Overview

Agile Project Management has become the buzzword across all the industries in today’s world. According to Gartner, Inc., IT organizations are under intense pressure to manage project resources for near-real-time changes. That’s why IT organizations are on the lookout for people trained in agile project management. Gartner predicts the demand for agile project leaders will increase by 75 percent from 2013 to 2017.

The agile approach to project management equips project teams to deliver quality results in reduced timeframes, plan for continuous improvement and to quickly respond to changing requirements.

In the agile world it is not enough to just analyze the situation, it is equally important to generate the ROI to the client from the work delivered. The Agile Product Owner envisions the product/value to be built for the client and convey the vision to the SCRUM team. The Product owner closely collaborates with all the key stakeholders in the project and maintains appropriate communication with them.

The product owner is involved in the SCRUM team’s development activities and decides depending on the priority what the next action items are and what to defer. He makes the scope-schedule decisions leading to the best product delivered to the customer.

The figure below depicts the flow chain where each Product Manager usually supports up to 4 Product Owners, each of whom can be responsible for the backlog of one or two agile teams.




Five years into the most challenging of my agile product management experience, I always still felt I needed an agile-specific qualification for product management that proved my expertise as a product management specialist and expand my career possibilities. That's why I was thrilled to get an opportunity to do the APO® Certification program of ACI®.

BENEFITS OF ACI-APO CERTIFICATION

As they say "Agile is Fragile" and has to be handled by people who are well versed with the application of agile methodologies and ability to use relevant project management methods. Successful completion of the ACI-APO exam enables the candidates to

  1. Effectively coolborate with and managing stakeholders
  2. Identify the business benefits to priorities and build product backlog
  3. Create alignment with the team and stakeholders around common measurable product goals
  4. Planning and carrying out product discovery sessions to build a product backlog, envision and estimate the product and plan incremental releases
  5. Plan the product construction sprint by sprint and maximize learning throughout the product development
  6. Ability to look at the "big picture" and become well versed in sprint planning, reviews and develop innovative ways to get the work done as also master the art and science of incremental delivery

WHY SELECT ACI

  1. ACI provides you with high quality training materials and a unique learning experience
  2. Approved ACI trainers are real time practitioners and leaders in the project management field and graduated from FT-20 Business schools.

AFTER THE EXAM

Score Report

You will receive an immediate pass/fail score upon completion of your exam attempt. The score report will display the percentage of items in each section that you answered correctly for your exam.

Welcome E-mail and Certificate Shipping

If you pass your exam and meet all requirements for this credential, you will receive an e-mail from ACI with instructions providing access to your certificate and logo. The physical certificate will also be sent to the shipping address you provided at exam registration.

Public Registry of Certified Professionals

A Public Registry of ACI Certified Professionals is maintained within the ACI Certification Records Management system. If you do not wish for your name to appear in the Public Registry of ACI Certified Professionals, you may choose to be excluded by updating your personal information in the ACI Certification Records Management system.>

AUDIENCE

Agile Product Owner role is a very unique and broad role in Agile/ Scrum which combines all of the challenging aspects of traditional Project Manager and Product Manager roles. Moreover, Agile Product Owner represents the customer point of view in aAgile project, to ensure maximum added value for each and every release to the customer.

We recommend you to obtain APO® certification if you are performing one of the following roles:

  1. Business Analyst
  2. Program Manager
  3. Product Manager
  4. Team Leader
  5. Project Manager
  6. Designer
  7. Architect.....etc

Comparison of ACI APO®with other certification bodies

Sample Certificate

TRAINING OPTIONS

  1. ACI, for all its certifications, mandates that all the applicants should have prior training in Agile practices to be eligible to apply for any ACI's certifications.
  2. You can take training from any organizations of your choice to satisfy the mandatory training requirements for the APO® credential.
  3. You are also strongly encouraged to study the reference books suggested in the later sections of APO® Handbook to feel confident about taking up the APO® certification exam.

CONCEPTS REVIEW

Who is a Product Owner

The Product Owner is typically a project's key stakeholder. Part of the product owner responsibilities is to have a vision of what he or she wishes to build, and convey that vision to the scrum team. This is key to successfully starting any agile software development project. The agile product owner does this in part through the product backlog, which is a prioritized features list for the product.

The product owner is commonly a lead user of the system or someone from marketing, product management or anyone with a solid understanding of users, the market place, the competition and of future trends for the domain or type of system being developed.

The key is that the person in the product owner role needs to have a vision for what is to be built.

Although the Agile Product Owner prioritizes the product backlog during the sprint planning meeting, the team selects the amount of work they believe they can do during each sprint, and how many sprints will be required.

The Product Owner's job is to motivate the team with a clear, elevating goal and help the team remained focused on the goal of that sprint.

The Product owner shoulders all the responsibility for Project success and is ultimately responsible to the team, stakeholders and to the company. In order for Agile to work the Product owner has to focus his time on activities that matter.

The responsibilities of the Product Owner are tedious and there is no one else on the team to cover for him/her or pick up the slack. Hence choice of the Product Owner can be success or failure for the entire project or, in the worst of circumstances, the success or failure of the company

The Product Owner is the also a member of the Agile Team who serves as the customer proxy, and is responsible for working with the Product Manager and other stakeholders - including other product owners and the team - to define and prioritize the Team Backlog so that the solution effectively addresses user needs while maintaining technical integrity. But the product owner also attends most relevant product management meetings, planning, and backlog/vision refinement sessions.

The Product Owner is responsible for both defining and prioritizing the Team Backlog. In addition, the product owner has a significant role in quality, and is the only team member empowered to "accept" new stories into the system baseline. For most enterprises converting to agile, this is a new, and critical role, which typically translates into a full time job - typically one Product Owner per one to two agile teams.

He represents the end customer and/or other stakeholders and is responsible for maximizing the value of the product by ensuring that the right work is done at the right time.


Characteristics of a Product Owner

Being a good Product Owner requires a wide array of skills like:

  1. Business process analysis
  2. Requirements analysis
  3. Product lifecycle management
  4. Configuration management
  5. Organizational marketing
  6. IT program management
  7. Consensus building.

In traditional Waterfall development efforts, each of these activities may be carried out as individual functions by entire departments of personnel, but Agile requires some proficiency in all of them and the awareness to solicit additional support when necessary.

This also means that for most efforts, being the product owner is a full-time commitment. These two considerations, the necessary skills and level of commitment, are what generally prohibit client-side individuals from being good product owners. If your customers don't have the ability to determine a cohesive, deliverable vision for what you're building, or if they can't commit to being accountable to the team at a level that enables rapid delivery, then they aren't suited for the product owner role.

In a nutshell, then, the product owner has two major roles

  1. From the Client's perspective, he is Product Management Coach.
  2. From the Team's perspective, he is a Proxy of the Client.

Responsibilities of Product Owner

Here are the top ten activities I have experienced a Product Owner must perform well in order to keep scrum teams effective:

  1. Represents the customer, interfaces and engages the customer
  2. Conveys the Vision and Goals at the beginning of every Release and Sprint. The Product Owner must continuously remind the Team of the Sprint and Release goals. This helps to keep the team on track and serves as an over-arching yardstick for the team to measure their activity and progress against.
  3. Creates and Maintains the Product Backlog.
  4. Prioritizes and sequences the Backlog according to business value or ROI
  5. Elaboration of Epics, Themes and Features into user stories that are granular enough to be achieved in a single sprint.
  6. Participates in the daily Scrums, Sprint Planning Meetings and Sprint Reviews and Retrospectives.
  7. Inspects the product progress at the end of every Sprint and has complete authority to accept or reject work done.
  8. Value Driven Development- The primary job of a Product Owner is to maximize the value created by the product for which he or she is responsible.
  9. Managing Requirements- The Product Backlog is the fuel that feeds the development team, and managing it is one of the primary roles of the Product Owner.
  10. Planning Releases.
  11. Coordinating the Release. Iterations and teams both serve a larger purpose – frequent, reliable, and continuous release of value-added software
  12. Managing Products- Understanding Total Cost of Ownership is fundamental to successfully managing a product.
  13. Can change the course of the project at the end of every Sprint
  14. Communicates status externally to the outside world.
  15. Terminates a Sprint if it is determined that a drastic change in direction is required.
  16. Accepting stories into the baseline. The product owner is the only team member who can accept stories into the baseline. This includes validation that the story meets acceptance criteria and that each has the appropriate, persistent acceptance tests. In so doing, the product owner also fulfils a quality assurance function.
  17. Helping the team to estimate development time for each scenario.

Difference between Product Manager and Product Owner

On very large projects, it is common to have a high-level product manager setting the over-all direction for a product. That product manager might work with several teams, each of which might have their own product owner.

Each product owner would maintain the backlog for their team. It might be true that the product manager is a bit more customer-facing and the product owner a bit more team-facing.

Instead, product owners works closely with the product manager, customers, and the other product owners in order to understand and prioritize (order) the stories in their team's product backlog in way that supports the overall direction and goals.

Working as the product owner implies taking on many product management responsibilities including understanding the market, describing product functionality, and preparing the product launch. This makes product managers well suited to play this new role. But a product owner is more than just a re-named product manager: Product owners tend to take on a wider role, which makes the role multi-faceted and challenging.


In a way, Product Owner is Product Manager and something more

Experience suggests that ‘something more’ comprises additional strategic duties includingenvisioning the product and managing the product roadmap as well as further tactical ones, such as collaborating with the development team throughout the development effort, writing user stories, carrying out release planning, and managing stakeholders.

Consequently, product owners often require more authority and more focus to do their job well.

The Product Owner can be anybody - the Business Manager, an internal or external client, or the Product Manager - as long as this person is part of the team and can devote enough time to the role.

In other words, the expectation is that the Product Owner is, at least partly, also the Product Manager, regardless of title.

Product Managers became specialists in understanding markets, Project Managers in delivery of projects, Business Analysts in solidifying requirements, and so on.


Typical Product Owner

While product owners participate in each of the rituals, their core job functions run outside and parallel to the jobs of the Agile Coach / ScrumMaster and team. Essential product owner tasks include:

  1. Facilitating an achievable and valuable vision for the product
  2. Guiding and adjusting an iterative release strategy that fits into the prevailing market tempo
  3. Distilling high-level requirements into deliverable user stories with complete acceptance criteria
  4. Enabling accurate prioritization of the product backlog
  5. Communicating complex issues of system architecture and technical debt back to clients
  6. Negotiating client-side disputes about requirements, design, and priority

The product owner role requires an individual with certain skills and traits, including availability, business savvy and communication skills. First, the Product Owner needs to be available to his or her team. The best product owners show commitment by doing whatever is necessary to build the best product possible - and that means being actively engaged with their teams.

Business savvy is important for the agile product owner because he or she is the decision maker regarding what features the product will have. That means, the agile PO should understand the market, the customer and the business in order to make sound decisions.

Finally, communication is a large part of the product owner responsibilities. The product owner role requires working closely with key stakeholders throughout the organization and beyond, so he or she must be able to communicate different messages to different people about the project at any given time.

PRACTICE QUESTIONS

1. What is a "sprint"?
  1. Few people running together to complete the project
  2. A period of high productivity during the start of the project
  3. A "time-boxed" period of "potentially shippable" work
  4. The rush during the last few weeks of the project

2. Who should re-prioritise the Product Backlog and when?
  1. The ScrumMaster- at the daily Scrum meeting
  2. The Product Owner- at the Sprint Retrospective
  3. The Team- at the beginning of each Sprint
  4. The Product Owner- whenever new information becomes available

3. Which of the following about product owner is true?
  1. He prioritizes the Product
  2. He prioritizes the sprint
  3. He prioritizes the Velocity
  4. He prioritizes the stories

4. Which are valid scrum roles?
  1. Product Owner, Team and Scrum Master
  2. Product Owner, Project Manager and Team
  3. Project Manager, Team and Scrum Master
  4. Architect, Team and Scrum Master

5. An iteration is over when:
  1. The iteration tasks are completed
  2. The stories are completed according to the Done definition
  3. The time-box expires
  4. The iteration review meeting and retrospective are conducted

6. In Agile software development, the best measure of progress is:
  1. Percentage of resolved bugs
  2. Working software
  3. Phase completion
  4. Release burn charts

7. The product owner has a significant role in quality, and is empowered to - new stories into the system baseline.
  1. Accept/ Add
  2. Reject/ Remove
  3. Both
  4. Neither

8. A burn-down chart shows ...
  1. The number of hours worked after dark
  2. The rate of reduction of budget for a project
  3. The progress of the work and features completed
  4. The declining energy level of the team

9. Who maintains the Product Backlog?
  1. The ScrumMaster
  2. The Project Sponsor
  3. The Scrum Team
  4. The Product Owner

10. Which of the following meetings is not part of Scrum?
  1. Sprint Planning Meeting
  2. Sprint Review Meeting
  3. Product Review Meeting
  4. Sprint Retrospective Meeting

Register

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FAQ

I found your web site after checking out USD 2000 price from another Scrum certification provider for training and 500$ for certification. That is too much for me to personally pay for. I am interested in making a certification program from your Agile Certification Institute for ScrumMaster. However, I don't have much background and project experience with Agile/Scrum. What is your suggestion?

At this point in time, ACI® does not impose a policy that you have to be trained from any expensive training providers to appear for our certifications. You can get training on Agile concepts from our website links and also the Master Standards which are provided to you once you register for the exam. Almost 40% of our certificants appear for certifications without any additional training (other than our website links and the Master Standards made available once you register).


How are the success rates of Agile certification programs?

The first time Success rate of Accredited Agile Practitioner (AAP®) Certification Program is 80%, whereas the success rates of Accredited ScrumMaster (ASM®) Certification is 82%. For Accredited Product Owner (APO®) Certification and Accredited SAFe Agile Practitioner (ASAP®) Certification Programs are 65%. However, most candidates seem to clear the certification in their second attempt, thereby incurring no additional expenses (All our certification programs provide two attempts for a single registration towards any certification)


Can you please provide more insights about the structure of the questions of your certification programs?

The exam questions contains of a total of 75 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. The questions are based on the Master Standards approved by Agile Professional Certification Council (APCC) with a 50:50 focus on the theoretical aspects as well as practical challenges of working in an agile setting.


How soon after the registration, will I receive access to take the examination?

After you register for the exam, you have to choose a slot which is preferable for you. We provide 24 slots in a day and they are available all 365 days in a year. The remote proctoring is done via webcam (so your computer MUST have a working webcam to take up this certification). The exam software locks your screen and hence you cannot change your browser. Also you will not be allowed to move away from the computer screen during the exam. Any such violations will result in forfeiture of your attempt at the exam and you will have to take a second attempt.


How soon after the completion of my examination, will I receive my Certification and Test Results?

It is a matter of a few seconds. Your answers are processed and evaluated real-time and you will receive your test results as soon as you submit the answers of your Agile Certification Examination. However to receive the certification, you have to clear all the three levels- Written Assessment, Submission of a Thesis (600 - 900 words) and a peer / managed feedback.


Can you let me know the procedure for the examination and details of written assessment?

Before you take the examination, as part of registration you are required to upload one of the photo ID's recommended by APCC (Includes a passport, a valid driving license of your country or any other government issued photo ID). Your ID will be verified against you personally via webcam before the test lock is released on your appointed registration time so as to ensure the test takes is the person whose ID is presented. We provide 24 slots in a day and they are available all 365 days in a year. This means pretty much you can take the exam anytime you want in a year. Our proctoring team works from three different countries so as to enable 24x7 coverage of the test taking. The registration is valid for a period of one year. The remote proctoring is done via webcam (so your computer MUST have a working webcam to take up this certification). The exam software locks your screen and hence you cannot change your browser or search online or use your browser for any purpose other than taking test during this period. Also you will not be allowed to move away from the computer screen during the exam. Any such violations are treated with seriousness and you will become ineligible to continue the certification exam. You will have to take up the exam after re-scheduling and this shall be treated as a second attempt.


Can you let me know more details of Thesis submission?

The thesis to be submitted should be between 600 words and 900 words (Roughly about one A4 page equivalent). The topic can be chosen by the candidate. Several topics and samples of previous thesis submissions are provided to candidate after they clear the assessment test. Most candidates have no difficulty clearing the Thesis level.


Can you let me know more details of peer/manager submission?

Once you submit the thesis, you will have to get recommendations from three members (either peers or managers) recommending this credential be bestowed upon you. Each of the referee has to fill an online recommendation from which consists of five (5) questions on which he will be rating on a scale of 1-10 (1 is low and 10 is highest). All these recommenders must possess a valid corporate e-mail ID (Any exceptions need approval from APCC). You will have to get an aggregate of 50% in all the recommendations to obtain the ACI credential. In case, you do not get the required rating, you can modify the reference providers and re-submit to a new set of recommenders. Our past records indicate no one had difficulty clearing this final round of assessment.


What is the validity of the registration?

You must complete all the requirements of the assessment within one year from the date of registration. If you cannot complete all the formalities of the assessment, you will automatically lose your registration and have to register.


I have received your global credential for Agile Certification recently. Is there any validity to my certificate? Also, should I pay any annual membership fees?

Once you are certified by ACI®, the certification is valid for 4 years. Every 4 years you have receive 45 knowledge points (KPs) to renew your certification. The Master Standards on Agile undergo changes every few years and we want all our certificants to update their knowledge every 4 years. However, you do NOT need to write the exam again. One knowledge point is approximately equal to one hour of class room instruction or one hour of effort on reading a relevant text book etc. You will have to pay a fee of 20$ every four years to renew your credential and maintain your licence details in our certified agile Practioners database. However, most of this information is available in "My ACI" once you get certified. Most of the relevant books are available as e-copies to be read online in "My ACI®" and these count towards earning KPs.


Will you help me get a job?

ACI® does not act like a placement agency and we do not directly provide jobs to any certificants. However, "Planet ACI® " provides a networking platform for Job providers from various companies all around the planet to post relevant jobs.


While I am making examination if I lose my Internet connectivity due to some technical issues, do I have to pay again to access the certification examination?

No problem at all. If this happens please inform us per e-mail and we will reactive your examination access code free of charge.


I just passed one of your certification programs. What kind of certificate do I receive?

As soon as you complete all the requirements of the certification, you will receive a PDF certificate which is printable if you wish (as it is generated with high quality). In addition, you will also receive your paper based certificate by regular mail within 3 months of clearing all the certification requirements. Please keep in mind that our paper certifications are processed in our back offices located in Singapore, India and Qatar and will contain metal objects (lapel pins) hence you will have a long lead time of 3 months to clear the customs requirements of your country. However, our database will reflect your certificate authenticity from the instant you clear all the requirements and you can use that in your CV.


I am considering registration for your Certification program. However, I have never possessed such a certification and I just would like to understand how such a certification looks like?

You can see a low resolution and miniaturized copy of the certificate in the respective section of the programs by selecting the respecting program links and navigating.


What is the difference between the certifications provided by Agile Certification Institute and other organizations?

According to our market analysis our programs cost less than 1/5 of the lowest cost of other online Scrum certification programs with better brand in the market. Moreover, together with the trust of our thousands of certificants we have brought a modern and friendly approach into the field of online Agile / Scrum certification programs which doesn't mandate practitioners like you to receive expensive classroom trainings before you prove and certify your competence in Agile/Scrum.


Why is your cost lower than others?

We use the latest technology in certification test taking based on Remote Proctoring and Screen Locking facilities in addition to large scale certification operations which brings down our cost of operations. We pass on some of these advantages to you, our certifications takers.


Are Scrum certifications valid in Europe and in Asia?

Yes. Certifications we issue are worldwide valid including in Europe and in Asia. Our certifications are valid and recognized in more than 120 countries around the world.


Will I get reimbursement for this certification from my organization?

ACI provides you with a detailed invoice. This coupled with successful completion of a certification from ACI provides you with reimbursement in most organizations around the planet. In case, you are not successful in claiming the reimbursement, you could alert us post your successful certification through "My ACI". Our global support team will then work with the leaders of your organization to enable reimbursement.


Do I receive PDU credits for ACI courses?

Yes. Please follow PMI's procedure. Our KPs are similar to those of PMI's PDUs.


Will I get a promotion by taking up your certification?

In most organizations, this counts towards continuing education and should enable you to get recognition and improve the chances of your promotion but keep in mind that this cannot be guaranteed by ACI®. Based on a survey of more than 1000 certificants in the past, we have seen an average of 3000% ROI on their investment on ACI certifications.


I am going to register for an agile certification program. Can I make the payment by using my credit issued from a Scotland bank?

Yes. Our trusted payment partner accepts all major credit cards issued from all banks around the world including the banks from Scotland.